A DUDLEY restaurant worker was caught transporting smuggled tobacco after cops spotted his "seriously overladen" vehicle.

Mohammed Azim who was employed at the Shanghai Fusion was driving along the Birmingham New Road in Dudley on his way back from Nottingham when his car was pulled over by the officers.

When they checked why the car was overladen officers found 194 kilos of tobacco worth more than £150,000 and 29-year-old Azim was quickly arrested, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

Recorder Oscar Del Fabro told Azim: "This was a huge quantity of contraband tobacco and you were involved in its transportation.”

He said it was accepted Azim was carrying the tobacco on behalf of others having been promised his petrol money adding: "You helped deprive the public purse of a great deal of money."

The duty that should have been paid on the contraband tobacco would have been £31,853 and the Recorder jailed Azim for three months, he ruled a prison sentence had to be passed to reflect the seriousness of the offence.

He concluded: "I have to send you to prison to mark just what a serious matter this way but also to discourage others from getting involved in this illicit trade,"

Azim, of Bevan Road, Tipton, admitted evading excise duty on the tobacco and he accepted he had been "naive and stupid.”

Stephen Bailey for Azim, told the court his client had learned a number of lessons while being held on remand in custody including the "folly of getting involved in the world of contraband goods."

Mr Bailey said he had been asked by a friend to help transport the tobacco which was in bags labelled "China Tea" and he knew his behaviour had been stupid.